Monday, 26th September, 2011
The latest statistics on Agriculture in Scotland, released today by the Scottish Government, give grounds for "cautious optimism", according to Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead.
 
Mr Lochhead made the comments following the release of the June 2011 Agricultural Census, which showed, amongst other things, the Scottish beef herd increased by 2,410 head and the area of land devoted to cereals increased by 4.9 per cent.
 
Furthermore, Despite a decrease in breeding ewes (down 3,745) there was an increase in lambs (up 56,742).
 
Mr Lochhead said:"Like many parts of society, farmers are currently dealing with challenging circumstances - everything from severe weather to the economic downturn. However, it is good news that that we are now seeing evidence that the number of beef cattle is stabilising.
 
"Despite last winter's severe weather, we have seen a healthy increase in the number of lambs - despite a small reduction in the number of breeding ewes. The increase in land devoted to cereals reflects farmers' expectations at planting time of a good return.
 
"However, although these figures are positive, I know that farmers continue to face a range of difficulties, including the cost of fuel, fertiliser and feed and the difficult harvest conditions.This is an unsettling time for arable farmers and I hope that the better weather of the last few days will allow them to complete the harvest successfully."